(reference photo)
reference photo a
Value Studies

Limiting the number of different values in your paintings is one way to create strong, bold designs. Doing value studies in two, three, four and five values is a great way to learn how values work in a composition. Working with a limited number of different values forces you to be very selective about how you use them.

To the left is a two-value study of two peppers, done with only black and white. If your design looks interesting in black and white, it will probably make a good painting. If it doesn't look interesting and attractive in black and white, it is unlikely that adding color or fancy brushwork will make it successful. For the purposes of these exercises, try to get the designs to work without resorting to the easy solution of using outlines; use shapes instead. For this two-value study, that means that some parts of the peppers will merge together, while other parts will merge with the background or the surface of the table.